Antonio María Garcia

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Antonio María Garcia (El Inglés, El Indio)

Antonio María Garcia was a catcher and outfielder who is rated by some as the top Cuban player of the 19th Century.

Garcia debuted in 1882-1883 with Almendares and was with the same club in 1885. In 1885-1886, he was 3 for 18 with a double and a triple for Club Fe, then was 9 for 44 with two triples for Habana in 1887. He blossomed in 1888, hitting .448 to lead the Cuban Winter League. The Habana star also led in hits (26), doubles (6) and slugging (.621). He fell to .238/?/.262 for Habana in 1889. With Fe in 1889-1890, he won another batting title (.369) and also led in hits (24), triples (4), homers (1, tied) and slugging (.569). He finished second in average in 1890-1891 (.338) while with Fe and slugged .403. John McGraw tried to sign him around this time.

"El Inglés" (so called due to his mastery of the English language) won his third batting crown in 1892, hitting .362 for Almendares while placing second with a .464 slugging percentage. Garcia moved to Aguila del Oro in 1892-1893 and won his fourth and last batting title at .385. He also tied for the most homers (2) and doubles (4) and slugged .557. Returning to Almendares in 1893-1894, he hit .352, good for second place behind Miguel Prats and slugged .409. The next winter, he hit .333/?/.347 for Almendares. Cuban ball was shut down for a couple years due to the so-called Spanish-American War.

When baseball returned to Cuba in 1897-1898, Garcia was past his prime, going 5 for 25 for Almendares. He was 9 for 22 with a triple in 1899 and was second in average, then finished third in average (.292) in 1900. That year, he was part of the first Cuban All-Star team to tour the USA. He fell to .212 with no extra-base hits with Fe in 1901 and was 1 for 8 for Almendares in 1902. The veteran had one last season in Cuba in 1905, going 2 for 11 in his fourth stint with Fe.

Antonio's career was not over though, as he would spend a few years as a bench player for the Cuban Stars who played against top black teams in the pre-Negro League era. He hit .281 as a starter for the Stars in 1910, 28 years after his debut back in his homeland.

He made the inaugural class of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.